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A practical velomobile…and really fast ones too

Commuter, Concept 7 4560

It seems like I have been hearing more and more from companies making velomobiles lately, and that is a trend that I hope to see continue. I am definitely not an expert on the subject of HPVs or velomobiles, but the Challenger from UK based Ocean Cycles is a pedal powered machine that immediately caught my attention.  The sleek design is based around Inspired Cycle Engineering’s Sprint Trike, and is available with an electrical assist option. You can find out more about the Challenger and see additional images on this page of the Angletech Cycles website (an Ocean Cycle dealer).

Ocean Cycles wants to “promote the use of the velomobile as a viable option for the daily commute”, but there are also those who build full fairing HPVs that are designed strictly for speed. In just a few weeks, HPV builders and fans will gather in Battle Mountain, Nevada for the 13th annual World Human Powered Speed Challenge.  Earlier this year, there was a lot of attention on the web given to Graeme Obree’s plan to make an attempt at the human-powered land speed record at Battle Mountain (on a machine that he is designing and building himself of course).  Obree’s stated goal is not just to break Sam Whittingham’s current record of around 83 mph though. Obree wants to be the first to reach the 100 mph mark on the prone position HPV that he has been building at home. Aside from this blog post though, I haven’t heard much about Obree’s plans in the last few months. Hopefully he is on track with his training and construction and will not be stalled by the unprovoked attack that he suffered last night in a Scottish pub.

I have a hard time believing that Obree, or anyone else, will be able to actually hit the 100 mph mark, but I would love to be at Battle Mountain next month to see the attempt.  I am certainly pulling for him, and I hope that his attempt will focus more attention on the World Human Powered Speed Challenge, and the HPV community in general.

Update 9/6/12: Here is a link to the latest photo I have seen of Graeme Obree’s world speed record attempt HPV. The World Human Powered Speed Challenge at Battle Mountain is just a few days way. Has anyone seen the shell yet?

Another update 9/7/12: You can see the shell here, but unfortunately the bike is not quite ready for an attempt at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge at Battle Mountain next week. That’s a shame, because I was really hoping that Obree’s attempt would bring some publicity to that event. Oh well, I’ll still be checking in to see how fast the other teams are going in Nevada.

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  1. Nick F August 27, 2012 at 11:58 pm -  Reply

    Can’t wait to see the shell he puts on that thing… and I can’t believe that he’s using some sort of linear track for his propulsion. Physics may be applauding him for his aerodynamic position, but it’s probably *facepalming* for his drive system.

    Rooting for him!

    • James Thomas August 28, 2012 at 10:31 am -  Reply

      I am a looking forward to seeing the shell too, as well as the completed frame and drivetrain. I have a hard time understanding how he is going to get up to speed with a single 320 inch gear, but I guess pushing a big gear is what Obree has always done best.

      I will be very surprised if he can break the record, but even if he doesn’t I think it is great that he is making an attempt. Even if he can only hit 70mph or so, it will be a victory for garage tinkerers everywhere.

      • art August 28, 2012 at 11:29 am -  Reply

        There are some videos of the complete rolling chassis here:
        I’m with Nick. The losses through that rig are going to be brutal, and that’s if the whole thing doesn’t fold up under the amount of power he’s going to have to put through it.

  2. littleman August 28, 2012 at 11:59 am -  Reply

    Never say can’t, but from the looks of the photo I would guess that he will have a lot more surface area once enclosed than the recumbent who’s riders sit lower between the wheels. Georgi Georgiev’s Varna Tempest that Sam W. rides is tiny.

  3. TimJ August 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm -  Reply

    Great post. The words “practical” and “velomobile” don’t normally appear in the same sentence. 100 mph? Sounds crazy, but then 80 mph sounded crazy too.

    • Maarten August 31, 2012 at 7:00 pm -  Reply

      I’m using a velomobile in the Netherlands, more specifically a Quest. With a velomobile you are riding in the cycling-equivalent of a Ferarri. At times it can be challenging, as quite a bit of the (cycling) infrastructure here is designed with an ordinary bicycle in mind. On the whole it is rather surprising how well this goes. I rarely have to go back because I can’t get past a corner or so.

      Now a Quest is fast, but still practical. With three wheels you don’t need a pitcrew to start and stop. The three wheels make it stable, while still maneuverable. And of course you have the luggage space.

      So, yes: a velomobile is practical. A record bike on the other hand is more like an F1 racing car.

  4. Konstantin September 4, 2012 at 1:48 am -  Reply

    Can’t wait to see where this goes, but in the videos that art posted Obree’s rig looks so unstable.

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